Donnie Darko star Jake Gyllenhaal is to aim for a touchdown with an upcoming biopic of NFL legend Joe Namath, according to industry reports.

Variety says Gyllenhaal has been contracted by Universal Pictures to take the role of the first gridiron player to achieve Rock Star fame.

A 1960s icon, Namath graduated from the football program at the University of Alabama to secure a then-record $400,000 salary from the New York Jets, before raising hell in Manhattan's nightclubs and helping the upstart American Football League to challenge the National Football League, leading to their eventual merger.

Namath's good looks and charisma were a driving force behind the emergence of gridiron as a televised sport and he is famed for personally guaranteeing that his beloved Jets would defeat the much-fancied Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III - all on knees so weak that he was turned down for the Vietnam draft for fears that he'd collapse on the battlefield.

David Hollander will script the biopic once the Hollywood writers' strike concludes, with Jimmy Walsh of Namanco Productions to executive produce.

Walsh told Variety that he and Namath gave the thumbs up to the biopic after a strong pitch by Hollander and the attachment of Zodiac star Gyllenhaal.

The 26-year-old is currently shooting with Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman in Jim Sheridan's Brothers, before beginning work on Doug Liman's as-yet-untitled moon movie.

28/11/2007 12:13:37